Home improvements that are well worth it

There are improvements you can easily give up, and there are others you should hold on to for your life.

Kitchen of a Standard Pacific Home
The upgrade options that will come in handy to you every day and in the future are the ones you should consider mostly, such as hardwood floors, which are easy to maintain. Construction by Standard Pacific Homes in Palencia. Saint Augustine, Fla.

A surprisingly large amount of the money you spend on your new home will be determined by the options you choose, and those options are always changing.

For example, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, both considered expensive improvements for years, are now a standard in most new homes. However, opting for the most common (or lowest) denominator isn’t always the best way to save, or spend, your money. For maximum functionality and a healthy return on investment, consider the following improvements for your new home:

Start with the kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, the place where you will spend most of your time and create most of your memories. It can never be too well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, in addition to the tools you’ll be using every day. “A lot of people still give up higher-end, energy-efficient appliances because they think technology is always changing and you can always make improvements later, but that’s almost always the most expensive path,” says architect Jerry Gloss of KGA Studio in Denver.

The idea that you should wait years to see a return on your investment is also false. “A quality refrigerator and freezer can keep your food fresh longer without drying it out, and with rising food costs, this is a savings you’ll notice immediately,” adds certified kitchen designer Joyce Gardine Combs, whose eponymous firm is also based in Denver.

Kitchen upgrades not to be overlooked include quiet, quality dishwashers; microwave drawers, which are easily accessible; Independent hoods and beverage centers under the counter, so that children and guests can serve themselves without hindering the preparation of food.

Cabinets are also expensive to replace later. Even opting for an upgrade simply to obtain the semi-customized variety will make you have more finishing options and better quality materials. Consider the option of pigeon tail joints and split drawers, as well as making the cabinets deep and long to ceiling height for a sleek, customized look and extra storage capacity.

Combs also recommends removable shelves instead of open shelves. “They provide more storage capacity, easier access and take up less space.” Soft-closing door springs and premium hinges will help extend the life of all your cabinets.

It’s impossible to have too much light

Many people overlook the role of lighting in daily life, but lighting contributes a lot to the atmosphere of a home, and can help facilitate important tasks, such as cooking or shaving.

The rooms in which lighting is most important are the kitchen and bathrooms. “Bathrooms are almost always overlooked when it comes to lighting,” Combs warns. “There it is always better for the light to come from above and around the head.” Opt for ceiling lights and lamps for specific tasks, such as ceiling lamps along with light fixtures, and you’ll never have to squint to see again (at least not in the bathroom).

In the kitchen, most people place recessed lights and a pendant lamp over the kitchen island, and that’s it. But the lighting under the cabinets is a big help when you’re cooking. They also illuminate the space and is a great choice for a moment of entertainment, as the ceiling lights can be very strong.

Lighting the inside of a glass cabinet was fashionable for a while, but not everyone likes it and it is not considered something key to everyday life. The areas where you eat, pay bills or do homework should, however, have some special lighting for such tasks and these improvements are worth making. Having multiple pendant lamps can work well in these areas.

With respect to the rest of the house, you will need a mixture of lights that you can control with dimmers.

Walk around here

Flooring is a key aspect to the look and feel of a home, and hardwood floors never seem to go out of style. If the budget is somewhat tight, focus on the living room and kitchen only. In colder climates, radiant heat floors “are a very important part of life, very welcoming and comforting,” Combs says. If you can place them, you’ll notice the difference just like future buyers.

Energy savers

There are many ways to save on your energy bills besides comparing the right appliances. Tankless water heaters, as well as energy-efficient plumbing and air conditioning systems, can make a big difference almost immediately and is something really worth adding.

Santos closets!

Have you ever heard someone say they have too much closet space? That’s because you can never have too much closet space, so if you choose between, say, a formal dining room that you’ll only use a few times a year, and more closet space, the decision is very easy. Closets also add a lot of value if you decide to sell later.

Sit down, eat, study, hang out

Kitchens may be the center of the home, but kitchen islands are the place where you spend most of your time. Consider expanding the island to accommodate up to six people and you’ll be making your way to a less formal dining space, and for the aforementioned closets!

Electric company

Not all improvements should be expensive. Adding just a few extra outlets and ceiling fans in certain rooms can make life much more comfortable without costing you a fortune.

The reason so many people get stressed about improvements is because they didn’t plan for them. Set aside a portion of your budget ahead of time for this and the process won’t feel so overwhelming, so you can focus on how to get more bang for your buck.

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By Catharine Bwana